Friday, 1 July 2011

Wknd 2-3 July

Sun setting on Seton fields - the fantastic "meadow" between Seton Mains and Seton Chapel, c. 30 hectares of rough vegetation which has sprung up on a "set-a-side" area, has been a magnet to many species again this spring - particularly good for scrub loving warblers, Grasshopper Warbler, Sedge Warbler and Common Whitethroat, as well as Reed Bunting. Including the area up onto east of Blindwells a minimum of 7 territories of the former (and probably several more beyond on edge of Tranent, 7+ last year). Thus I had targeted the area to get the required breeding confirmation for the NT47 10km atlas map and made a couple of visits staking out song posts and long watches but nothing definitive seen in terms of young :(

Into first week July and sudden disaster with the area being mown - arrived on Friday morning to find the first field being finished off, where I had my main stake-out! The slope down to the caravan park was still intact, and 2 or 3 Groppers were in song there - after getting into position with a good view over a fair expanse near a song post (small birch) one finally flew a short hop clearly carrying a white faecal sac. Several Sedgies, Whitethroat families and Reed Buntings FF in same area - expect Sedge Warbler territories there into double figures. Just a minute or two later the mower came round and commenced on these slopes - who knows how many of the other resident breeding birds will have been lost there?

[Postscript - I'm subsequently informed that the site was being cleared after confirmation by an "ecologist" two weeks previous that there were no breeding birds present; they were presumably sufficiently skilled (one would hope so if being paid for services) but I guess this happens the world over where the surveyor is collecting payment for telling the client what they want to hear!]

During same period the family of Kestrels came out from Seton Chapel area, a delight to see them all playing in the air together, then the parents giving a passing Buzzard a very hard time! 11 more Crossbills went over high SW (and I note the first juv Siskins on Fair Isle, perhaps some of the current influx are from a little further afield?). A Quail was in song from the bank further west by Seton Chapel, or beyond - another first (and not for want of trying in that area!).

Dawn Sunday did Whitekirk BBS (late!); hoaching with Goldfinch, perhaps due to a thistly oil-seed rape field, but some other regulars a bit thin on the ground. On concluding another small flock of Crossbills was heard heading NW over Barebanes Wood. Again interesting to speculate on origins - though not complete, records on BirdGuides are indicative of an evolving influx/irruption with main focus on east coast - starting May increasing in early June, then quite a surge late June to date, e.g. 100+ N Yorks on 4 July and significantly 44 in off sea at Howick, Northumbs on 1 July. I have it on good authority that arrival over the sea is highly unlikely at present, so this latter sighting may be misleading. Coastal records can also of course be explained by internal dispersals.

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